Here are some little known facts about Thomas Crapper & Co Ltd Toilets and Lavatories in general!

  1. In Britain, many people think the word’ lavatory’ is the correct term to describe the Water Closet, but in fact it means a washbasin!
  2. The word ‘lavatory’ is derived from the Latin, ‘lavare’, to wash. In the nineteenth century people would ask ‘Where is your lavatory?’ (that is, ‘Where may I wash my hands?’) when they really wished to use the loo but they were too embarrassed to mention it.
  3. There is no proper term for the W.C. in English. Most of the words we use are euphemisms, such as ‘lavatory’ (actually means ‘washbasin’); ‘toilet’ (performing ones toilette, e.g. washing the face, brushing hair or teeth, etc.); ‘Water Closet’ (a cupboard furnished with running water). The rest are generally vulgarisms.
  4. In the 1990s, NASA spent $30 million on developing new space-loos for the convenience of their astronauts when in zero gravity.
  5. Alexander Cummings is often cited as the ‘inventor’ of the flushing W.C., in the year 1775, but he was simply the first to apply successfully for a patent for a loo. Furthermore, his patent was merely for ‘improvements’ to an existing flushing apparatus.
  6. The Reverend Henry Moule invented the world’s first ‘eco-loo’ in 1860. Called the Earth Closet, it was device that flushed dry earth, not water, and was a great success for decades.
  7. The world’s first public lavatory was built by George Jennings at the Great Exhibition in London, 1851. A white-coated attendant charged each user a penny, from which we have the term ‘spend a penny’. By the end of the exhibition the receipts totalled £2,441, when there were 240 pennies in the pound!
  8. It is believed that the first commercially-available toilet paper was introduced in New York in 1857, by Messrs. Gayety’s Medicated Paper Co..
  9. If all the rolls of loo paper used in Great Britain over twelve months were laid end to end, the strip produced would reach further than Mars. However, the average American uses more than twice as much W.C. paper as the average Briton!
  10. The Scott Paper Company of Philadelphia is believed to have introduced rolls of lavatory paper in 1879. Previously, it was supplied in square sheets, in cardboard boxes.
  11. In nineteenth-century London, much of the ordure from water closets, privies and chamber pots drained into the rivers, and thence into the Thames, which became a vast open sewer. Summer 1858 was unusually hot, and the smell from the Thames caused Parliament to rise early because of the unbearable stench. It became known as ‘The Great Stink’.

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